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Mandatory Standard For Cots

Consumer Affairs Minister Phillida Bunkle has today announced a new mandatory safety standard for cots.

"Too many New Zealand babies have died in cot-related accidents. One measure to help reduce these fatalities is the introduction of a mandatory standard," she said.

"Cots were involved in 22 out of 35 deaths caused by nursery furniture products between 1985 and 1994. Cots also accounted for six percent of 2000 hospitalisations of injured children through injuries."

The standard comes into force from October 1. It will require manufacturers and suppliers, including second hand dealers, to ensure new and older or used cots meet specific safety criteria.

"We have made a conscious decision to include second-hand cots in the standard because of the dangers posed by older designs that are still circulating. Establishing a benchmark for safe cot designs is a major factor in preventing cot-related injury and death," Phillida Bunkle said.

"While this standard goes some way to addressing the problem of unsafe cots, I urge caregivers and parents to remain vigilant. A mandatory standard cannot give absolute protection to sleeping babies - there are many causes of cot accidents.

"The Ministry of Consumer Affairs recommends regular checks to ensure cots have not broken or come loose in places, and that a cot is never used if it has parts missing. Babies have died when their heads have become stuck in a gap created by a missing cot slat or bar. Those missing parts could mean the loss of a life."

Phillida Bunkle said the Ministry had consulted widely before approving the standard and would be working with interest groups to develop education initiatives, to supplement the regulation.

"I want to commend the contribution made by cot manufacturers who have supported moves to ensure their products are safe. The standard aims to help eliminate design and structural faults that have caused accidents in the past," she said.
Phillida Bunkle said work was still being done on safety issues around prams/strollers and baby walkers. She is currently considering a ban on baby walkers, after expressing concern at the high rate of injury to young children.

In the mean time, she has asked officials to develop a safety information strategy around infant furniture products.


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